Dear Church Family,
I just attended an old fashioned traditional Adventist funeral and it was wonderful! Now, that is a bit of an odd statement, isn’t it? Most of us don’t think of funerals as “wonderful” but this one was. Bonnie and I took Bonnie’s mom and dad and her aunt (dad’s sister) on a 3,500 mile round trip drive to Grand Forks, North Dakota and back. We went to support Bonnie’s cousin who lost her husband to cancer.
Jerry was a farmer in North Dakota. He grew up on the land he worked all his life. He was a gracious man, loved by his family and his community. As an elder in the local Adventist church, he was looked up to and admired for his Christ-like treatment of everyone he came in contact with. I truly enjoyed every contact that I had with Jerry during my 36 years being connected to Bonnie’s family.
The funeral was at the Grand Forks Seventh-day Adventist church. It was packed with family, both relatives and church. Stories were told. Homily was given. Scripture was read. Hope was inspired. And the hymns! There is nothing like a full church singing the songs of the promise of Christ’s soon return! And maybe it was the hymns for me. Bold. Strong. Songs that we all knew (well, us old people knew). It was powerful to be there in this celebration of a life lived in the presence of Jesus.
This is the month of Easter. A celebration of Christ’s life lived in our presence. A time when we go back and look again at his funeral. We sing songs of death and burial and especially resurrection! And even though, Fred Meyer wants us to buy chocolate bunnies and colorful baskets and yellow marshmallow Peeps (okay, I will get some of those) we know that there is something greater about this time in this month of April.
Central to everything we believe is what took place that Passover weekend so long ago. What Jesus did in His death, burial and resurrection was nothing short of revolutionary. He took on the devil and his kingdom of death and defeated them! He entered into the place that you and I could never enter and ever hope to return, and walked right through. Romans 6:9-11 reads, “We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus”.
“Death no longer has any power over Him!” And if we are in Christ Jesus, death has no power over us! This is something truly to praise God about! This is something to sing a hymn to! “I will sing of my Redeemer, and His wondrous love to me: On the cruel cross He suffered from the curse to set me free!”
“Death is swallowed up in victory! O death, where is you victory? O death, where is your sting?...But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 1 Cor. 15:54-57
Our farmer in North Dakota had a great funeral because he had already defeated death in his taking Jesus has his Savior. During this month of Easter, I would invite you also to put the sting of death away from your life and live in the victory that Jesus won on the cross.
In His Matchless love, Pastor Tim